first, so these issues are actually more connected than they might seem. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> claire berlinski is also the author of "menace in europe: why the continent's crisis is america's too." for more information, visit berlinski.com. >> up next, ted fishman assesses what the world will be like this year 2030 when one billion people will be over the age of 65 and the number of people over 50 will, for the first time ever, outnumber people under 17. this talk from the half king in new york city, is just over 45 minutes. >> thanks to the half king for having me. this is the wonderful place and really has become one of the country's premier salons for readers and readers who read readers. so thank you very much. i have a gift for you all
tonight. i was thinking this is election season, so how would i get a lot of press attention for my reading? and i was thinking, well, maybe first i could start off by fabricating my military record. [laughter] i am the most highly-decorated soldier of the great war. [laughter] and i know there's some really dynamite reporters in the room, so i hope you dig into that and falsify it, and i get lots of publicity from it. now, it sounds absurd to say that, you know, the last veteran of the great war died, the english veteran died recently, and he was commemorated, but if this were a time of war right now and we were thinking 100 years into the future from the war we're having now, we wouldn't be talking yet about the last veteran because over the last century the human life
span has expanded by two and a half years every single decade. so there would be lots of 100-year-old veterans around. and if you think about it in terms of the amount of time you're going to spend with me this evening, that means for every minute you listen to me you're gaining 15 seconds to your life. [laughter] i hope it doesn't feel like that. [laughter] but next time you're having your dilbert moment sitting in a meeting that seems endless and boring, just think, yeah, i'm living longer. this is, this is helping me. this is vitamins, baby. [laughter] and that, also, should give you a sense of one of the reasons we've arrived where we have as a society that really has a lot of good news. so there are some grim things in my book, i won't deny it. there are things we ought to wrestle, there's things we ought to apply our intelligence to in
order to solve. but we're here because of our own brilliance as a species, because we have doubled the life span since james watts' steam engine, people are living twice as long as they were. if we live as much longer in the next century as we have added in the last century, we will be adding hundreds of billions of human life years for the people who are on the planet today. that's amazing. makes you have a different view of intergalactic travel. but this is one of the miracles of the modern era is that since the first people started talking to spirits or mixing herbs, they have wanted nothing more than to live longer and live healthier. and we are lucky enough to live this moment, and it's really a brief moment when you think about human history, where this has been achieved. we get to enjoy this great gift. now, my cousin sent me a letter,
he said, news flash, ted fishman in favor of longer life. and, yes, i am. longer, healthier, engaged life. and the reason i wrote the book is because we are at this moment right now, we've applied our best intelligence for millennia to get here. but, still, the moment surprises us. and we're in crisis mode about it. and we have to apply the same intelligence to negotiating, to navigating, to creating the society we want and the lives we want for ourselves. and that's what "shock of gray" is about, it's to give us all the lens and the goggles to look at this new world so we see the dynamics where our eyes land, to see it in our families, to see it in our work race workplace, e it in our communities, in our community, and even as you'll see from the book, geopolitically. i'm going to go true some of -- through some of these things. so why are we getting older as a
society? there's a difference between the way people age and places age. so you all age day by day with every day, year by year with every year. societies age in different ways. so when we say japan is theest society in the world, it's not because it's existed the longest of any place in the world, it's because the median age has been pushed up, because the groups of older people are disproportionately large compared to what they have been historically. and just about any way you can measure an aging society, japan is it and most of the world is going that way. now, why does this happen? well, one reason is that we are living longer. and when we live longer, we push up the average. but that's not the big reason. there are other big reasons why societies age, and the number one reason is that we're having smaller families. this relates to longevity, it relates to our increased health, it relates to all the reasons that give us increased health. but families are smaller nearly
everywhere in the world except for a handful of places. families are about half or less as big as they were a generation or two ago. nowhere in the developing world except for a few exceptions, very small countries most of them, is the fertility rate above the replacement rate for the population, in many they're quite far below that. so japan, for instance, will be back to its world war i population of around 55 million people at the end of this century. if nothing radically changes there. that's quite stunning. europe very soon will cross a threshold from when it population is growing, now growing marginally to when it is shrinking. barring some vast change in the number of children people have or this immigration picture. and i don't think those changes are going to happen, and that's something we can discuss too. and then there's another reason why the age demographic of a
place can change, and that's immigration. you know, in "shock of gray" i talk about why the age change of the world informs the way money moves, the way people move and the way goods move. and one of the very startling things is the way an aging society encourages younger people to move in and fill in the gaps that are missing. now, we know that if you have a family that has caregivers, you may have an immigrant caregiver who's come in the prime of life to make his or her way here in this country. one of the countries i profile is spain. spain is very interesting in this regard. for most of the 20th century, spain was the sending country where it had a surplus of young people, and they left to serve families in germany, factories in germany or elsewhere in western europe. but then around 2000 its profile changed dramatically. it went from having virtually no
immigration into the country, very few foreign-born people, to a period in which its age demographic started tipping and is started getting older and older, and it needed young people to fill in the work force. so spain in very short order became a receiving country for immigrants from south america and fromout in africa. -- north africa. and sometimes these changes are so dramatic that they change the demographics of the country that people were sent from. so here we are many new york. new york is a center for ec what dorians to move. there's two places in the world where they move, they move between the ages of 18 and 35, and generally they have two places where they go. one is new york and the other happens to be area around barcelona. new york and barcelona both have half a million ec what ecuadorans.
one out of eight works abroad. and this has changed the demographics of ecuador which has gone from being a young country to a country that has exported so many young people that it's now one of the world's rapidly-aging countries. and in very short order, mexico, too, will be a rapidly-aging country. and if all goes as according to the trend, now, mexico will be an older country than the united states. pretty amazing. so we have those three things. we have longer life, we have smaller families, and we have immigration. i'm going to go through some of these. so one of the people in the audience here is my dear editor, colin harrison. and colin and i have been exploring global issues together for a long time, first at harper's magazine and now at scrivener books. and colin has sent me on journeys all over the world to explore and bring him back interesting tidbits.
and one of the big projects i did for colin was china inc., my last book. and one of the fascinating things about china for both of us was when you arrive in that country, you see a fascinating place that seems to you to be the young e place in all -- youngest place in all the world. you go to shanghai and neon wonderland where there are young people on the make crisscrossing the streets, literally crisscrossing the streets, often against the light, usually against the light. or began dong or shanghai, for example. shanghai is a city that adds about a million people a year every single year, virtually all of the additional population between the ages of 18 and 5. and then -- 18 and 25. and then you go to factories in the china, and they seem to be enormous collections of young people. i've been to factories where there are 20,000 people under 25.
there's a company that we all buy products from, foxcon. if you have an ipad or a dell computer, you buy products of this company. they have 960,000 employees, most of them under 25. this year they will add 400,000 more employees, so they will have 1.3 million employees, virtually all of them under the age of 25. that is enough to fill six out of ten jobs in manhattan. just one firm. so you walk into these places, and you think, what is the most important fact about this workplace? is it low wages? probably it's important. is it where it is in china? also important. but what is the one thing that gets you through the door in these factories? it's the fact that you're a young person. you know, we all know it's hard to pass a camel through the eye of a needle, but it's pretty easy compared to pass ago 45-year-old through the --
passing a 45-year-old through the human relations department of a company. you just don't see them. and so i'm from chicago, from the side of chicago, and when i see separations of pop legs in big ways -- populations in big ways, i start thinking there's something structural here. there's a reason for this. there's maybe an economic reason or a social reason. and then because colin had asked me to look more deeply at the issues of around age, i started thinking about how this was affecting the global commerce between the aging world in europe and in america and elsewhere in east asia and china. and if you look at the industrial workplace in japan, in europe, in the united states, the effective retirement rates, the rates at which workers are leaving those places is going down. at the very same time, 100
million or 200 million new workers -- all of them under the age of 25 -- are being acquired in china. so i started wondering, well, maybe globalization itself is a creature of the aging of the world. and our fortunes are all determined by whether we live in an economic environment that in some ways defined deeply by the costs of an aging world. the most expensive employees, as you all know, are the ones you pay the highest salary to because they've acquired knowledge in their firms, and they have firm-specific knowledge so they get hired more -- i mean, they get paid more in a company more. well, a flexible work environment arbitrages away that firm's specific knowledge. when you outsource a job, you don't need that firm's specific knowledge anymore. health care for older workers is expensive, so it's not just expensive for those workers, but if you have older workers in
your midst, all your health care is more expensive. benefits packages are more expensive. so when the effective retirement age goes down at the very same time the official ages are going up, there's a reason why these jobs are being shed. and there's a reason why they're being acquired in china. now, china does no have an effective pension plan, it does not have an effective health care plan, and people say, ted, you know, it's all about the low wages in china. it's not about discriminating against the old. well, if it's about the low wages, what about the parents of these workers? they're the lowest-paid people in the world. they're completely out of the monetary economy. they're the hardest-working people in the world. they break the soil until they can't lift the hoe anymore. t not about that -- not about that, it's about rate. >>ing a low -- buff age-related expenses. and so that was, you know, one of the genesis of this book.
and once you start seeing the world in that way, then you can start seeing a dynamic in which the aging of the world propels globalization and then globalization propels the aging of the world. and you can see why we are many this feedback loop which makes societies older and older and older. now, there are some challenges to that. we all know that. so in france today, in spain today, in greece today and even around the united states, we are hearing and seeing people hit the streets because they don't want their pensions taken away. they don't want their pensions reduced, i should say. not taken away, but reduced. they don't want the retirement age to change which is, in effect, a renegotiation of their benefits. but what are the sectors in which these are dominant? in the united states these are the sectors, the public employees, whose jobs cannot be outsourced abroad. industry solved the problem, but
in the public sector we haven't solved that problem. we haven't renegotiated society in a way that handles the economic burden of the public sector. and we have to be very careful as we go about doing that. but i think that's one thing that's overlooked in much of the coverage. so i told you i traveled around spain, and i bring good news from spain. it's sunny, it's wonderful, they make the most of what god gave them, for sure. my editor in spain, a guy who i'll call marcus, gave me the idea that spain was the place to report in, and he did it over a lunch in which he was smoking interminably, made it through half a pack of cigarettes, three glasses of wine, enormous plates of appetizers followed by enormous dinners, lots of ham. and while he's smoking and chugging and eating his ham and drinking his wine he says, ted, i think you're on to something. because here in spain, our damned mediterranean diet just won't let us die. [laughter]
of course, i want him to live forever. and then i was looking at his plate and his ashtray and his wine glass, and i thought, that's a good way to live forever. [laughter] and it turns out that, you know, this mediterranean diet -- although we all think of it as a certain thing; lots of vegetables, no animal fat, light portions, eating moderately throughout the day -- that that's life-prolonging. but if yo look closely -- you look closely at the spanish diet, the fat content is huge! the spanish eat more ham than anyone else in the world by far with the one exception of the danes who are also very long-lived. and yet they still live this very long life. and i was wondering about this. but if you look at the way spaniards eat, not the things that they eat, it's markedly
different than the way we often eat which is social. if you eat alone in spain, you haven't eaten. [laughter] it's your time to be with your family and your friends, and it's a very convivial experience around the family table, around table with your work colleagues. lunches there take forever, this is something i would really recommend to my colleagues at scrivener books. [laughter] the two-hour, three-drink, ham-laden lunch, authors really like that. [laughter] and it seems like they're getting nothing done. but there's a lot happening in that. they're trading information. they're making emotional connections. they're investing in a long, happy life. and there's good research around this about what a social life can do for your long-term health. and this is the mediterranean diet. now, there's another feature of mediterranean life which i think is surprising, and that is what
happens to a family in a country which is so adamantly self-identified as pro-family? so i've traveled to china, i've traveled to japan, i've traveled throughout central europe, these are places where people are so quick to tell you, we're not like americans, we don't put our old people in old people's homes, and grandmothers are always around. well, what are the places in the world that have the fewest children? receive identified as -- self-identified as being the most pro-family. why is this? as soon as the women have an out where they can pursue their own aspirations or education, they take the time to do that. they run to that window. there's an interesting section in the book which was fascinating for me to report which is on how the eugenics laws in japan that were enacted so that japanese women would not have the soldiers of gis
limited the japanese baby boom to four years because as soon as they were begin access to birth control, they took it. because the demand of being a japanese woman is so severe. without those children, without the expectation, then japanese women have a better chance of achieving their aspirations. so this is one of the miracles of an aging world. one miracle we won't turn the clock back on, but it is one thing that keeps families small around the world. and it creates burdens down the line. so you have this idea of families as the bulwark against the ravages of old age. because your children will take care of you when you're old. but actually, in the countries that hold this idea dearest and loudest, they don't have the children to take care of them when they're old. and also they live so long that if their children were taking care of them when they're old, you'd have 90-year-olds being
taken care of my 70-year-olds. and when you talk to families around the world, one of the things they tell you is the one thing i don't want is my children taking care of me. this is not something parents tend to want in places where they've struggled hard to give their kids an education, struggled hard to give them a foothold in the world of work. and so with the exception of japan, what you get is an environment that's ripe for immigration. and that's why when societies age, they off have high care burdens for the members of the family, but often those burdens are shared with somebody who's hired and somebody who's come into the country. and i talk about that. and that, obviously, has an effect not only on b the family which allows the grown children to stay in the work force to stay productive to help the economy overall, but it also has
a huge effect on the country from which these immigrants come from. so the families that leave ecuador, that leave the philippines, central europe, they're sending money back to educate their children. and now we're starting to see how aging propels globalization, and now we can turn to how globalization propels aging. so when you have a newly-industrial country and young people have come to the city and women can achieve their aspirations, stay in the work force, you also get a population, an urban population which will have smaller children. i mean, smaller numbers of children. but what do they do with their small families now? they invest in them. if you have five or six children, you can only provide them with so many calories, with so much education. but if you have one or two, you could pump lots of calories into
that one or two child. he'll be 4 or 5 inches taller than your children would be otherwise, and you can see this. you can measure rural families against urban families. there is a health differential which is huge. you can pump educational resources into that child, not only you as the parents, but the grandparents do this too. and you start to get the dynamic of a developing world, a prosperous world. so with all of the grimness we think of as an aging world, you also get this rejuvenation of a world where families can provide the children that they do have with more and more resources, and you get a far more urban world. so not only do the workers stay in the cities, not only do the children they have stay in the cities, but their parents come in from the countryside in order to take care of the children so that the adults who have the children can stay in the work
force longer and stay productive. um, so this is the global view, but there's another thing i want to talk to you about, and that is how the aging of the world changes places that we live in and changes your lives and my life here in the united states. i think we all owe it to ourselves to see the dynamics of global aging because that puts you, your children, your parents in a global context that is very real in defining the fate of where you live, defining your own professional life and defining the fate of our country. but it's done another, it's had another effect that has interested me quite a lot on the book, and that is it encourages people to rethink where they live, how they live there and what is the nature of the place that they live?
so in a way, an aging world makes people redefine the place they have committed their life to, and it makes the places redefine themselves so that people stay there. so older worker have been the most easily discarded in a globalizing economy, especially older industrial workers. so if you look around the country, many of our oldest communities are aging industrial communities in the northeast, in the midwest, and these are places where the older people have stayed there, younger educated people leave, and their demographic shoots up so that they mirror very closely retirement communities. one of these places i looked at was rockford, illinois. it's northwest of chicago, for most of the 20th century it was one of the richest 25 towns in the united states. one prosperous family company after another, many of them employing hundreds or thousands of people. the clusters of industry that existed to rockford have been decimated by the migration of
manufacturing out. the workers that exist in the companies that are still there are much reduced in number because one of the responses to globalization by some companies is to automate. if they can't find lower-cost workers who are effective in their workplace, they will find robots and machines that will do it, all in an attempt to shed the cost of an aging work force. so if you live in rockford and you are a skilled worker working in one of the many factories that was there or is still there, around 52, 53, 54 you start hearing the signals from your bosses about it's time to move on. we have a package for you. an early retirement package, you really ought to take it. maybe we'll throw in some training. maybe we'll pay for your insurance for a while, usually they're misled on the insurance. and when you walk around rockford, you see lots of these workers who were once very
happily employed at companies they were at for a long time, and now they're in retail environments or they run cleaning services, or they're caregivers for older people. and there's something in the air ha makes you feel very -- that makes you feel very old at age 50. if you're in rockford. you feel like you and your cohort are past your use-by date. and the young people do leave. when you talk to the families in the rockford, one thing they complain about very bitterly is that it is impossible to keep the well educated young people in rockford. mostly they go to chicago, some probably come here to new york, all over the country. it's one of those places wherever you go, you start asking anyone here from rockford, and you'll find somebody who has left rockford. and so the town faced this situation, how was it going to deal with it? well, they elected a young mayor. the young mayor ran on a sec l
platform, a single-issue platform. it was to rejuvenate the town, bring young people back. get the young rockfordians to come back. we're going to improve our museums, create a riverwalk, improve our parts, have cultural events -- on my first weekend in rockford, there was a huge post-thanksgiving bash in order to talk the ex-rockfordians who were there with their families into coming back into town. some places have had success, rockford hasn't. they did have a whole young taffe, and they were doing things that were specific to rockford, locally-raised farm goods, prepared cheeses, and to me this was a great example of how a place can take advantage of its unique assets. but where did rockford really succeed? it succeeded in ways it didn't expect, because with rockford's
aging population, there is a booming niche in the economy. it's the health care niche. so if you go downtown to the cafés and the restaurants, they're struggling, but if you go around the hospitals, there's cafés, and can there's restaurants, and there's young professionals. because this aging population has created a vibrant business in the health care sector. and it turns out the health care sector acts as a kind of manufacturing industry for your town because you actually get export income from the health care sector. because you get to import money that the federal government raises nationally, and can it's all paid locally. and so rockford -- the companies in rockford went for this. the rockford health care, the main health care system in rockford sent to the philippines to find 100 young nurses to be part of this, and now if you go to rockford, you see a younger population coming in.
often they're immigrants from central europe or from the philippines or from mexico, and they're filling the churches that were once empty. they're filling the stores that needed customers. and they found their from the aging population. so i started thinking, is this a mode for development in the future? can you build your economy, can you build your sense of place because your population is aging? and in order to do this reporting, you know, i had to call on all of my skills as an investigative reporter gained over the years often under the stick of some people in this room and figure out how i was going to report. and i did what i do whenever i face an important, challenging story that i don't know how to begin attacking. i asked my mother. [laughter] and i said, mom, where -- what -- she's 83, she was 80 when i started the book -- what can i do to dig into this issue?
she said, ted, go to sarasota, florida. [laughter] so i went to sarasota, florida. and what did i find? [laughter] it's the oldest large metropolis in the united states, demographically. it's quite a bit older than just about any other place you could name. interestingly enough, the demographic of sarasota is just about the same as the demographic of white rockford. and they have bet whole heartedly on what rockford can't provide. if in rockford you feel old at age 50, in sew that you feel young at age 65 because you get there, you're the active elder, you've got a bunch of 85-year-olds to calm down, kid, turn down that rock music. [laughter] that's enough mick jagger already. [laughter] and some of the most lively places i visited in sarasota were not in wealthier enclaves in sarasota, but they were the
ones on the edge, the trailer homes, the manufactured homes where life was even more social than it was elsewhere in sarasota. and it was, actually, a fabulous place to visit. you know, for the nurse time in my -- first time in my life i started thinking, do i want to live in a trailer home? [laughter] maybe i'll meet tonya harding. [laughter] an aged tonya harding, now there's something to ponder. will[laughter] so sarasota has not only organized as a kind of silicon valley for aging where there are so many innovative companies that they've come together and figured out how they can export the models that are developed in this crucible of competition in the an aging society, the people itself organized. so share sarasota has the highest number of not for profit organizations in america because people want to reinvent themselves, and their reinvention becomes part of their journey.
and they know they have to be social just like the spaniards because if they're social, they'll add to their years. and, you know, in a nutshell i think this is a kind of challenge we all face. here are people who have grasped the reality of their being, know what kind of community they're in, made economic virtue out of necessity and have really, you know, led the way for the world enough so that sarasota is now not only attractive to people from the united states, but it's become an international center for people to retire. because competition has made it so, and because the people who live there have made it so. so what's the "shock of gray"? the shock of gray is that the profile of the world's population is inverting. we used to have lots of young people and few old people at the top. when i was a kid, it was a bunch of kids firing spitballs at one another and a few old people in their 50s to the side. now it's a bunch of old people
in their 50s firing spitballs and a bunch of kids telling the older people that they're embarrassing them. and it's really how do we take this world so that we protect ourselves from the impulse of strong economic forces that want to devalue older people and reduce their wages and move their jobs to where younger people can be employed and get ourselves and all of the people who are filling the upper reaches so that they are the most valuable, most active, most happy at the periods where we might dismiss them? with that, i would love to hear your questions. thank you very much. [applause] >> so there's a mic we can pass around. ask me something hard. there's one.
>> hi, ted. >> hi. >> question, i'm in the medical tourism business, and we're looking at sending people overseas for medical treatment, both elderly people and even people to retire and go into, you know, nursing homes. how do you think that's going to effect the population of the world and how it's going to shift around the demographics? >> oh, great question. nice to see you, by the way. you know, medical tourism is quite a phenomenon the world. you know that spain, in addition to having an older population, is kind of the favorite. it's kind of the sarasota of europe. but if you're a sand knave yang -- scam knave yang, your -- in japan there are whole medical expeditions that go to the
philippines for things that require long-term recuperation or something like that. and you can get transplants in other countries. if you're looking, if you're a refugee from socialized medicine, a system of socialized medicine that you feel isn't serving you. and i think this is kind, this is an interesting ec port. so -- export. so i don't know that it will ever compare to the kind of medical complexes that will grow up in be our communities where people are aging, but for certain procedures that require longer care where it pays to have a patient lower-cost health care environment, i think you'll see it. americans may be less prone to do that than europeans and asians though. yeah. galen. >> hi, ted. >> hi. >> what do you, what to you say about cities like new york? >> yeah. >> i mean, they're almost their own country, in a way, be we think of it that way.
but cities like london and paris and new york that are, have an identity, how do you see them fitting into -- >> yeah. well, cities are a great topic in a great world, and i talk about it because it's fascinating. i believe that the aging of the world will propel the urbanization of the world far faster than any of the other mainstream estimates of it. and the reason for that is cities are good places to age. a good city is a great place to age. think about new york where we are. new yorkers actually live pretty long compared to the rest of the american population. now, maybe it's darwinian and you drive the weaker people out -- [laughter] they're coming to northern industrial illinois. to buy vacated homes. but, um, you walk if you're in a city. public transportation is available to you. new york is a great place to anal. i happen to think the best -- age. i happen to think the best city
in the world for its own people is tokyo, japan. you have to walk downstairs to get to them or upstairs to get it. the diet is very good. japanese, when they're healthy, they're very convivial too. but they an alt metize people who are sick which is a bad thing, so there's a lot of isolation in tokyo. but in general, the lifestyle there is great. and it's also the fact that cities are cognitively challenging. you know, we've all heard if you do cross word puzzles or whatever that you're going to be cognitively fit. i don't put much stock in that. i think maybe if you do crossword puzzles, you join a community, and you feel like you're making a connection, that might be the benefit. but if you give somebody at age 60 -- or, i mean, at anal 70 or 75 or 80 a map of the tokyo subway system, they're going to do two things, they're going to study that map and learn how to
do it, or they're going to adapt some fabulous piece of japanese technology that tells them how to do it and stay current that way. because cities are cognitively challenging, they also keep you cognitively healthy. and i think they're excellent places to age. yeah. >> i was just curious, there's a theory that was, made a lot of press in germany a couple years ago called asset meltdown theory, it more or less explores how a society at a certain point the aging process and the number of people who are suddenly sort of cashing in their investment starts to, you know, pull down on the, you know, the investment universe of that particular country. you know, you actually definitely put a great spin on the individual challenges and some of the successes that a
town or a city might have in attracting young people, but what happens when you have an entire society, a country that really is going to start seeing that kind of eating of its own feed corn where you might have a brazil or an indonesia or turkey with populations at age 25, 26, 27, sort of the sweet spot of family creation, i mean, how do you see it from the larger geopolitical at that point? >> yeah. well, that is "shock of gray." that's what the book's about, and that's a really great question. actually, i first learned about this topic from my editor at worth magazine. t something we wrote about there. and, you know, this is, of course, an eshoo. but it does also relate to how long people can stay vital in their lives. so when does this drawing down happen? so what i proposed in the final remarks of my talk in a
couchway, maybe i'll elaborate on that right now. so i think one thing we need to avoid the she scenario in which people start spending down their lifetime savings in order to survive into old age, we might think of an accumulation of intellectual capital in addition to the accumulation of your real capital. and by this i mean what can we do for us and for our neighbors so that when they arrive at age 62 or 65, they are the most valuable they've ever been in their work lives? because they have accumulated knowledge, maybe technology helps them with the things that are challenging to them, their memory or whatever, but they've acquired skills, they've acquired knowledge, they've acquired judgment and wisdom over their careers so that when you get to that late stage. in your career, you can't be devalued. and you can already see this in the service economy taking place. so the people who -- we have very high work force
participation among older people now. half of this population has been reduced to bad jobs, minimum wage jobs, temp jobs, self-employment of some lousy kind or another. but a large proportion of them are knowledge workers, lawyers, inventers, engineers who actually need to spend their whole life getting smart, and they want to work deep into their 70s or 80s or even 90s. if we can facilitate that, we'll avoid the she they -- scenario altogether. yeah. >> [inaudible] >> yes. and i wish you were. wish you were. >> i was ceo of -- if i was ceo of a large company, what would i do or think about differently after i read this book? >> you know, i learned a bitter lesson from writing china inc. which is when you write a really scary book about the difficult realities, it gives people excuses to act in absolutely the ways that you hope that they don't.
because you say, okay, globalization is happening, outsourcing is happening, i'd better get onboard. my competitors are doing it. and, you know, my goal with this book, really, is to lay out what i think is the situation empireically, describe it and then i think once people see the landscape in the way that i'm proposing, hen you'll get this -- then you'll get this networking reaction of solutions that are all around. and as the ceo sees it and as the people who work for him see it or his networks of suppliers see it, the whole world will be reconfiguring around this. but i think in the short term the, what i see happening are the forward-thinking ceos who think of demographics in some important way, have changed their thinking radically because of the recession. so before 2007 what i heard on this book was so contrary to my instincts that i wondered whether it was so, and it was
that. the baby boomers are getting old, they're so rich, they're going to want to leave the work force early, what is corporate america going to do? hundreds of millions of years of expertise are walking off the shop floor. we'll never get them back with these spoiled millennials who all they want to do is study film. [laughter] and then the recession happened, and it's like, oh, my god, we've got all these older workers, they think they're entitled to everything because they have hundreds of millions of years of experience. how do we get rid of them? we're going to design our organizations to have maximum flexibility and, by the way, china's graduating more university graduates than india and the u.s. together, let's go there. but it's all part of a dynamic, and we're all competing to make a living. and i think once we see this, that will change too. thank you, everyone, i'll be around and would love to hear your remarks and questions. [applause]